It was just over two months ago that I finished my first ever draft of my novel (which apparently, is a novella for now). And I had the “brilliant” idea to walk away from it for 30 days to see what would happen when I came back to it for editing. In my mind, I think I assumed that it would be a glorious process of me going over my work that I poured countless hours into and that inspiration would flow from me like prolific discourse.
^^^Exactly, how I thought this was going to go…
I did, in fact, go back to those pages after the 30 days…And this is what happened.
*Opens up document. Reads title*
Wow that could use some work.
*Reads first paragraph*
Well, that’s uninspiring…
*Reads first chapter*
Oh my friggin’ Lan, what is this?
Instead of throwing in the towel (or throwing out my laptop) I went back a week later and tried to resuscitate the first chapter. I couldn’t tell you how long I worked on it, but apparently I worked on it long enough to have left this little gem for myself to find another month later.
Apparently it needed to be more chaptery because this was the only really useful note that I left myself.
When I began reading the opening line, I was slightly disappointed because I distinctly remember those words being so much more catchy when I first wrote them. I remember them being the beginning lines to a hit NYT Best Seller. Instead I looked at them like this:
*sighs* I know there’s still hope, but do you ever just look at something you’ve written and just think, Yes, I’ve paragraphed before?
I’ve been trying out a few different things and have found five effective ways that helped me get going on the rewrite process. I’m here to pass on what little fortune cookie wisdom I have for anyone that may be able to relate or who is going through the same thing right now.
First things first:
- Pinterest: The ultimate source of showing you what could be.
For a couple of years now, I’ve been using Pinterest as a huge source of inspiration. First, I create a secret board. This is because I have no idea just how many skulls, tattoos, kissing scenes, motorcycles, or morbid towers I’m going to Pin for my new story idea. And if you’re like me, it’s also nice to have free reign over the board without wondering if people are concerned about the sometimes weird things you might be coming across.
^^^Real reactions you might get from people if your board about cults, smoking, drinking excessively, or getting promiscuous tattoos isn’t secret.
- Playlists: Hearing what your world or characters would sound like through song.
One of the first things I do when I get a good story idea is create a playlist. These are songs that I compile together that help me envision the world that I’m building and some of the characters in it. Sometimes the lyrics don’t always match up, but the sound of the song in the background does so I add it to the list.
Later on, in the editing process these songs can help remind you of why you started this project in the first place. What scene did you have in your head when you first got the idea? Who was your main character? What were they doing? What were they like?
A song can trigger so many memories and feelings that sometimes we forget about. A playlist is one of the most essential parts of my creative process because it’s where I get a lot of inspiration for where the story needs to go next based off of how the characters are.
- Books: If you don’t like your words, try reading someone else’s.
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” -Stephen King
The King has spoken.
This may go without saying, but if you’re going to really invest in your own work it helps to look at those who’ve already done it. Maybe you reread a book you’ve already read a thousand and a half times just so you can remind yourself why words mattered to you in the first place. Or maybe you pick up something new that broadens your horizons further. Either way, it’s all good for inspirational mojo.
- Movies/Shows: TV in simply a book being played out on the screen.
Sometimes it helps to watch something that might help kindle the inspirational flare. When I watch something, I tend to find myself rewriting what I’m watching in my head to see what it would sound like if it were written down.
Movies and shows are another way of showing you what other possibilities are out there in character development, conflicts, plot formation, and resolutions. Sometimes it helps to watch movies or shows critically rather than for just entertainment purposes.
- Real Life: The ultimate story teller.
Lets not negate the fact that real life can and has taught us a lot. There’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from personal experience or from simply observing the experiences of others.
Another odd practice tool I use is people watching and then rewriting their dialogue in my own head. So, yes, I totally eavesdrop on people when I’m out in public, but not to be nosey. It’s strictly for “research”.
But in all seriousness, there are real nuggets of gold in the small seemingly meaningless everyday actions we do and observe. It’s within the mundane of life that we can find moments that are truly inspiring. We just have to be looking.
Until next time readers. And to any of you seeking inspiration or motivation: don’t throw your computer out just yet.